Preston 1 Barnsley 2: Heckingbottom full of pride at high-flying Tykes

Barnsley moved into the Championship's top two after substitute Adam Armstrong's 79th-minute strike secured a 2-1 victory over Preston at Deepdale.
Sam Winnall.Sam Winnall.
Sam Winnall.

Sam Winnall had opened the scoring for the visitors but that was cancelled out by a superb equaliser from Preston debutant Aiden McGeady just after the hour.

But Armstrong produced an excellent bit of skill before curling the ball home and sealing the Tykes’ fourth league victory of the season.

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Excellent link-up play between Barnsley’s front two created the first chance after ten minutes - Marley Watkins cushioned Andy Yiadom’s cross into the path of Winnall and his strike from 12 yards forced a terrific fingertip save from Anders Lindegaard.

It was Barnsley who had their keeper to thank five minutes later, as Paul Gallagher’s free-kick from the left evaded everyone and was superbly pushed against the post by Adam Davies.

The Tykes should have taken the lead in the 19th minute when Adam Hammill crossed to the unmarked Marc Roberts, but the defender headed over from eight yards.

But the Championship’s top-scorers had their lead after 28 minutes when the front two combined again - Watkins’ low ball across the six-yard box left Lindegaard stranded and allowed Winnall to score.

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Two minutes after the break, Barnsley came close again. Conor Hourihane, who was the Championship’s player of the month for August, forced a smart save from Lindegaard with a free kick from the edge of the area.

McGeady, on loan from Everton, created a chance for Callum Robinson after 53 minutes, but the forward’s deflected cross was just wide of the far post.

The hosts’ effort to equalise left them open to the counter and when Ryan Kent stepped away from John Welsh after 62 minutes, Winnall was presented with another opportunity but curled over.

McGeady was determined to make it a debut to remember and did so two minutes later. Gallagher laid the ball to the Republic of Ireland international on the edge of the area and McGeady beat one man before lashing home left-footed from 20 yards.

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He could have grabbed a second after 72 minutes, when Eoin Doyle slipped him in inside the area, but McGeady sliced his shot well wide.

But it was Barnsley who struck decisively on the counter after 79 minutes as Preston debutant Alex Baptiste did not have the pace to live with substitute Armstrong, who pinched the ball and lifted it past Lindegaard from 12 yards.

“We earned the right to play a bit more football late on and we saw the game out with a fantastic goal,” boss Paul Heckingbottom said.

“We changed the formation as the game went on and we felt that if we could get someone behind their two midfielders it could cause them a problem.

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“You look at our bench now and realise that we have the options to bring on and turn a game. Likewise if we are in front we can take the game away from the opposition like we did last time (in a 4-0 win over Rotherham).

“We know we weren’t at our best on the ball, but we really put our bodies on the line. I’m very proud of them and I think the fans are proud of them as well because that passion is what they want to see.

“The players are crossing the white line and getting the wins.

“What we are delighted about is the fact that it’s four wins from six games. We have shown we can score goals and win games at this level and we’ve shown two different ways to win.”